Sometimes, being a teacher can be the best of jobs. This morning two of my students gave me an awesome surprise. Not only did they show how much they knew me, but they spent their own time converting some waste card into an incredible model of the TARDIS from Doctor Who. Being a big Doctor Who fan, I’ve previously blogged about my own DVD TARDIS cabinet that I made at home, so this one, from the student themselves, was a huge, cool surprise that made me feel so privileged and very grateful. Like I said, teaching can sometimes be the best of jobs, and this was one of those days!
As part of our English activities we’ve begun using Meccano in the classroom. Meccano is such a fabulous tool with a huge educational value. Besides helping the students develop their problem solving skills and their construction skills, it is also great for their literacy development. The students are having to cooperate in pairs (boy and girl) as they attempt to read, decipher and follow the fairly complex instructions. The instructions are all visual, the type that Ikea tend to use, but a lot more detailed and complex with steps having to be followed in clear stages. As well as requiring good reading skills, the students have to use clear, polite and constructive conversation skills to overcome any difficulties they encounter. This activity also has connections to the topic of robotics and digital technologies, which some students will be choosing to follow in high school. When finished they should have a great model with battery operated, working parts.
Well, that was one eventful holiday. It’s quite incredible how much we are sometimes able to squeeze into such a small amount of time. This blog went very quiet over the recent end of term holiday, but there were a few excellent reasons for that. The first reason was that I took my amazing little MGF car on a trip to Margaret River. This was quite a nervous few days, mainly because the MGF doesn’t have a great reputation for reliability, but we made the 900 kilometer round trip without a hitch. The second reason was that I became a grandfather for the first time. This was such an amazing experience and thankfully both mother and baby (Lacie) are doing great. The final and least enjoyable reason was that I had to prepare a presentation to give to the whole staff on the new Digital Technologies curriculum; taking up 4 days of my holiday wasn’t great, but at least it was for a good reason. All in all I had one truly eventful break, but back to school now and back to reality.
ANZAC Day is one of the most important days in the Australian calendar, and rightly so. One of the activities the students have been doing to commemorate this special day is cooking. We were incredibly lucky to have our neighbour, Mrs Harris, offer to make ANZAC cookies with all the year 6 students, a very generous offer indeed. The students had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed following the recipe to produce their goodies. In today’s curriculum, however, following a recipe has a new purpose – coding! Yes, a recipe has another term and that’s algorithm. The new Digital Technologies curriculum means that the language and concepts of coding can be applied to activities that the students are already familiar with, making it easier for them to comprehend. See, you learn something new every day.
Taikwondo, a visit to Sculptures by the Sea, gymnastics, athletics, our assembly, these are just some of the incredible topics the students from LA14 have been writing about. It’s been an absolutely fascinating few weeks in the world of blogging, but now it’s time to get down to the more serious side of our blogging – the Blogging Tasks. Our second task is a bit of fun and gives a little direction to those bloggers beginning to run short of ideas.
Some song lyrics, for whatever reason, strike a chord in our minds and end up having an impact, or at least stay in our memory. This line from Big Country’s hit In A Big Country has always stayed in my mind:
“I’m not expecting to grow flowers in the desert,
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime.”
I’ve never been a particular fan of their music, but when I first heard these lines they just made such an impact they’re still in my mind. Maybe it was because they convey a message that I can totally relate to, almost like a personal philosophy, one in which we need to appreciate the everyday riches in our lives rather than striving for something unattainable or unreal. Other songs have stuck too, but these lyrics are more meaningful than most. The task for LA14 this time is to tell the world about a song or some lines from a song that, for whatever reason, have stayed with you. What are the words? What do they mean to you?
This task is also open to any parents who wish to share their favourite lyrics or meaningful song.
I look forward to your completed tasks
I don’t always like to repeat an activity year after year, indeed, some of the activities I do repeat get changed and updated on a regular and often substantial basis. However, this is one activity I am repeating. This year I have the siblings of students I’ve previously taught and, while I was ready for a change, I thought it would be nice for some of the mums to have a matching set. I can’t say what it is (I’ve already said too much) as I don’t want to give the surprise away, but you can check out the photos to see how busy and productive the students have been. Only, if you do guess what it is, don’t tell anyone!
I’ve written about the many benefits to students from blogging here so many times in the past, in fact I have a very old page on this blog where I lay out some of my thoughts. However, I don’t think I’ve ever written about the down side. Well, there is one, albeit a very minor one, and even this has its positive side – it’s my extra workload! This, though, is the type of workload that makes the job worth it! Motivated, keen and dedicated students are what makes the education world go around, and we have heaps of them in LA14. Check out Paige’s recent podcast on the Stolen Generation; follow Georgia’s and Megan’s successes on the athletics field; read about Ankita’s experience of a wedding in India; learn about Nik’s amazing success at Taekwondo and see his fish-eye lens photo. Not only am I learning so much about the students that I would never normally know, but they are writing extra, using technology and staying safe and respectful online. The extra effort of setting the blogs up and checking them out is the best kind of extra workload for a teacher!
This first blogging task is quite a complex one. You need to create your completed podcast by combining the three different parts you have already created using Audacity. I will give you only minimum assistance with this, as a major part of the activity will be reading and following the written instructions. Once you’ve done that you need to upload it to you blog and copy it into the correct podcast enclosure; I will show you how to do that part. A completed, edited podcast posted on your blog will be the measure of your success with this task.
The students have been busy this week recreating their versions of the artworks inspired by Julian Opie. Some may recall (if you’re as old as me) the artworks that Opie created for an album cover by the group Blur; if you don’t, then have a look here on the website of the National Portrait Gallery in the UK. The students learnt all about using different layers in Brushes on the iPads to create digital art, similar to the processes used in software applications like Photoshop. Below are three of our incredible results. Compare them to Opie’s works and you’ll see just how good they are.
I’ve been very lucky in the past to have had so many great classes and great students to work with and this year is promising to be just as good. The enthusiasm shown by the students in learning new concepts and new technologies has been really encouraging. We’re in the process of producing our very first podcast (which will be posted on their blogs), but to do this the students had to work in groups to carry out research and produce their scripts. For some this process may be a problem, but these students took it all in their stride; they were happy to work with each other and enjoyed speaking their parts. I can’t wait to hear the results. Below are some of the students working together.